PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea, May 26 (Xinhua) -- In a sign of unity and cooperation, 21 Asia-Pacific trade ministers released a joint statement following the conclusion of Saturday's summit.
Over two days, the 24th APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Papua New Guinea's (PNG) capital city of Port Moresby, discussed a range of ways member economies can work together to strengthen cooperation, deepen economic integration and promote digital connectivity across the region.
"As a driver of economic growth and greater regional integration, through trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, APEC continues to contribute to job creation and the improvement of living standards in the Asia Pacific," the statement said.
"However, we recognize that the full benefits of trade have not reached all segments of our societies.
"The widening income gap, social inequality and the need to narrow the digital divide, as well as the increasing impact of environmental degradation pose great challenges."
In response, the ministers pledged to uphold the role of APEC as an "engine for sustainable economic growth and prosperity" which lays the foundations for a "shared future."
With this year's APEC theme, "Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future", the minister's joint statement included a total of 52 acknowledgments, much of which focused on the importance of the Internet, e-commerce and digital economy.
"Technology and innovation, they are changing the pace of global trade and fostering innovative and inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region," the statement said.
"We are committed to promoting cooperation... and working together to bridge the digital divide."
The statement also reaffirmed the need for adequate investment through public-private partnerships in order to develop "quality infrastructure," that can drive growth and improve living standards.
"We encourage economies to continue joint work through policy dialogues and investment-related capacity building including community engagement to communicate the benefits of investment," the statement said.
Other topics addressed by the ministers included the role of female entrepreneurs will play in future economic growth, environmental sustainability and food security.
Chair of the meeting and foreign minister of PNG Rimbink Pato, accompanied the acknowledgements of the ministers with a statement of his own, expressing gratitude for the cooperation shown by delegates at the summit.
"We underscore that trade liberalization and facilitation are essential for achieving sustainable global growth and remain committed to continuing APEC's leadership to promote free and open markets," Pato said.
"Our commitment to keep our markets open, to fight against and to rollback protectionist and trade distorting measures, and we reaffirm our leaders' pledge to extend the standstill commitment until the end of 2020."